When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, "You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? - Acts 3:12
What's it going to take, for you to accept the good news?
It's a bit like the gravestone message, "I told you I was sick." Evidently there were some who just didn't believe the sufferer while she still drew breath; maybe now they'll take her at her word.
"Why do you wonder?" asked Peter. Those around him were astonished that he and John and the name of Christ Jesus had caused a lame man to walk. It's the reverse of the gravestone message: God already told you that life defeats death. Maybe now the onlookers will believe. Maybe.
They say the shortest distance between two persons is a story. I think they're right (whoever they are). But it can take a while to learn to trust the storyteller, even when the story is full of wonder and justice and hope. Maybe such a good story is especially unbelievable, if life has convinced you to expect hardship and loss. As the poet Elaine Kahn writes, "There are those who would protect us / from the possibility of good."
Which story are you going to believe? The one about decay and meaninglessness waiting for you? Or the one about God's domain of grace, opening to you in your time?
God of unending mercy and life that knows no end: tell us that story one more time. Grant us grace to trust it, that our times of refreshing may come from your presence. Amen.
John A. Nelson is Pastor and Teacher of Church on the Hill, UCC, in Lenox, Massachusetts.